The very idea of “normal” is interesting anyway because all our times have been uncertain since the very first moments after God came looking for Adam and Eve and they ran away to hide from Him. That choice made from guilt and shame and their exodus from the safety of the garden pushed them from a life of intimacy with God into a world filled with uncertainty. I’m not really a history buff, but if you do a quick Google search of the twentieth century, you’ll read about a worldwide pandemic in 1918, complete with black-and-white photos of people wearing masks at Yankees games in New York. You’ll read about the World Wars and the Great Depression and the Holocaust and natural disasters and worse. We live in a broken, fallen world that has always been anything but normal. Isn’t it interesting to consider the truth that no matter what we face in the coming years, there will be people who have faced similar circumstances before? Times like these have always been “times like these.” It seems that uncertainty is about the only thing we can be certain about in the world.
Several years ago, I spent my summer in Colorado. Whenever the topic of the weather came up, the locals would tell me with a smile, “If you don’t like the weather here, just wait around a minute.” But as a traveling musician, I’ve learned that people say this in every region and every city of America! If you don’t like the weather in Florida, just wait a minute. If you don’t like the weather in Dallas, just give it a minute. There isn’t “normal” when it comes to weather. No matter where you live, it is in constant change. But that is the thing about this world that we live in, isn’t it? Everything can change in an instant. One minute I am at a sound check. The next minute a worldwide pandemic has shut down everything. The old Bob Dylan tune rings out a great truth about the reality of life—the times certainly are always changing. Our politicians change. Our circumstances change. Our moods, our relationships, our health, our financial status, our choices, our behavior, and other people’s opinions of us all change. But as I said before, I am looking upward to a different kind of “new normal.”
I’ve spent most of this wilderness season remembering the One I can really count on. Is there anything in this life or in this world that we can be certain of enough to stand on without fear of it shifting underneath our feet? We may be living in uncertain times in a fallen world that offers promises that it will never keep, but I don’t believe that is the true normal that God intended for us. With that thought planted in my mind and the world opening up again, I returned to our storage space as we began to load the bus with equipment to head out for stages across the country. The T-shirts and merchandise boxes came out once more. The mics went hot in front of live audiences again. But there was that first moment, before all the busyness of the business, that moved me deeply. When I opened that warehouse door after over a year, I noticed the replica blue couch sitting in the corner that I had been writing about and thinking about. I walked over and sat down on it in the shadows of that storage space and took a deep breath.
My moment there on the blue couch reminded me of my cab driver’s broken-English version of “The God Who Stays.” The song that pointed me back to the fundamentals of my faith. It made me realize that I am truly walking into a new kind of normal. I want the fundamentals of my faith to begin with the God who, during all this change, is unchanging. He keeps His promises; He is who He says He is; He always does what He says He will do. In a world that is in constant change, chaos, and turmoil, I want that solid Rock, Immanuel, the Word, His love, His joy to be my normal. I want to be living in the awareness of God’s faithfulness to me. Sitting on the blue couch in that musty storage space, I was reminded of another great tune from the hymn books of my youth that shaped my love for music—“On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand”—and I began to sing it. How I want that to be my new normal! I want to live my life standing on His promises.
Matthew West is a five-time GRAMMY® nominee, a multiple ASCAP Christian Music Songwriter/Artist of the Year winner and a 2018 Dove Award Songwriter of the Year (Artist) recipient. He has received an American Music Award, a Billboard Music Award, a K-LOVE Fan Award and named Billboard’s Hot Christian Songwriter of the Year. Apart from his successful career as a musician (which you can learn more about here), he is also an accomplished author, passionate father, and husband.